The Big Chill: unusual stratospheric phenomenon is bringing frigid cold to U.S

January 23, 2013CLIMATE – An unusual event playing out high in the atmosphere above the Arctic Circle is setting the stage for what could be weeks upon weeks of frigid cold across wide swaths of the U.S., having already helped to bring cold and snowy weather to parts of Europe. Forecast high temperatures on Monday, Jan. 21, from the GFS computer model. This phenomenon, known as a “sudden stratospheric warming event,” started on Jan. 6, but is something that is just beginning to have an effect on weather patterns across North America and Europe. While the physics behind sudden stratospheric warming events are complicated, their implications are not: such events are often harbingers of colder weather in North America and Eurasia. The ongoing event favors colder and possibly stormier weather for as long as four to eight weeks after the event, meaning that after a mild start to the winter, the rest of this month and February could bring the coldest weather of the winter season to parts of the U.S., along with a heightened chance of snow. Sudden stratospheric warming events take place in about half of all Northern Hemisphere winters, and they have been occurring with increasing frequency during the past decade, possibly related to the loss of Arctic sea ice due to global warming. Arctic sea ice declined to its smallest extent on record in September 2012. Sudden stratospheric warming events occur when large atmospheric waves, known as Rossby waves, extend beyond the troposphere where most weather occurs, and into the stratosphere. This vertical transport of energy can set a complex process into motion that leads to the breakdown of the high altitude cold low pressure area that typically spins above the North Pole during the winter, which is known as the polar vortex. The polar vortex plays a major role in determining how much Arctic air spills southward toward the mid-latitudes. When there is a strong polar vortex, cold air tends to stay bottled up in the Arctic. However, when the vortex weakens or is disrupted, like a spinning top that suddenly starts wobbling, it can cause polar air masses to surge south, while the Arctic experiences milder-than-average temperatures. During the ongoing stratospheric warming event, the polar vortex split in two, allowing polar air to spill out from the Arctic, as if a refrigerator door were suddenly opened. For reasons I don’t think we fully understand, the changes in the circulation that happen in the stratosphere [can] descend down all the way to the Earth’s surface,” said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) in Massachusetts. As the polar stratosphere warms, high pressure builds over the Arctic, causing the polar jet stream to weaken. At the same time, the mid-latitude jet stream strengthens, while also becoming wavier, with deeper troughs and ridges corresponding to more intense storms and high pressure areas. In fact, sudden stratospheric warming events even make so-called “blocked” weather patterns more likely to occur, which tilts the odds in favor of the development of winter storms in the U.S. and Europe. –Climate Central
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33 Responses to The Big Chill: unusual stratospheric phenomenon is bringing frigid cold to U.S

  1. How in the world do they figure all this out??? Amazing!


    • Moco says:

      Well, you make it up as you go along. If they don’t know what is happening they make excuses and use science terminology to please the masses.
      King tides?
      Global disruption?
      Using stuff like fiscal cliff to distract us into stoopism.
      Spin control, like gravy, on everything.


  2. Ian says:

    When will this take effect? – I’ve already had to clear snow of the car 3 mornings in the past week – the most recent snowfall, all day Sunday (yes all day!) left over 4″ of the white stuff on the car roof and some is still on the ground. We’re expecting heavy rain and a slightly less cold temperature for this coming weekend. (Kent, south east of London)

    Other parts of the UK have been much more severley impacted, especially parts of Western England, South Wales, North East England and of course Scotland, where this sort of weather is more common.


  3. Dennis E. says:

    Well, its going to get cold and according to this post, we will not need Mr. Groundhog to tell us if we will have eight more weeks of winter.


  4. Ben says:

    Science! A proven obstacle for scientist. What you are basically saying is you don’t know why. Also, the flawed theory of global warming shouldn’t be mentioned! It was debunked almost as soon as it came out! Remember them leaked papers?


    • permoccupy says:

      What you “think” is irrelevant. Fact: of nearly 14k climate studies, something like 25 are in any way anti-climate. Facts beat your “opinion” every time.


    • permoccupy says:

      As for Jacques, your fantasy does not equal fact. If it helps you, look at average temps by decade and note the most recent decade is warmer than the previous decade. Or, you can just look out the window, if you can be bothered to actually look at facts rather than listen to lies.


  5. zeno says:

    Earth wobble?


  6. John says:

    So, the polar vortex is weakening and breaking down. And there are major anomalies in the magnetic fields around the planet. All resulting in major shifts in meteorological patterns. Volcanic activity is off the charts and seismic activity is ongoing. And we are still expecting a major Carrington like event with the Sun. Anybody else sensing we are on the verge of a major cataclysm?


  7. TNO says:

    We have sudden cold because for the past month we’ve had an unprecedented number of volcanic eruptions. I’m surprised nobody is linking the two, since it is so apparent. The earth belches out the hot air and more importantly the ash, which then blankets the atmosphere creating colder temperatures. There has to be a ton of ash floating around, look at how bad China’s air is these days and all the dust storms, which is keeping the sun’s rays blocked from the earth.

    The earth is responding in a natural way, and it’s probably a good thing since the sun is about to cook us as it reaches its maximum. Maybe the earth is protecting herself by putting up a shield of ash.


    • Me says:

      I don’t know about that. Has there been enough ash spewed into the atmosphere for it to have that much effect yet? The eruption that is thought to have caused the Little Ice Age was the largest eruption in recorded history. (or may be ONE OF the causes, who knows?)

      From Wiki:
      The 1815 Tambora eruption is the largest observed eruption in recorded history (see Table I, for comparison).[4][6] The explosion was heard 2,600 km (1,600 mi) away, and ash fell at least 1,300 km (810 mi) away.[4] Pitch darkness was observed as far away as 600 km (370 mi) from the mountain summit for up to two days. Pyroclastic flows spread at least 20 km (12 mi) from the summit. Due to the eruption, Indonesia’s islands were struck by tsunami waves reaching a height of up to 4 m (13 ft).


  8. radiogirl says:

    For those that are following this weather pattern……what is it looking like for the state of Colorado? Many Thanks,R


    • John says:

      Colorado has been unusually warm and dry. Locals are commenting on how “bright and warm the sun is for this time of year” Drought conditions and no snow for skiers. And very intense chemtrail activity.


  9. Joseph t. Repas says:

    Thanks for bringing this article to our attention. I MUST say however that even though what the scientists are saying as to what they are observing is accurate enough, they do not have a clue to what is really going on. Much of this has to do with the tides of the atmospheric water vapor as pulled by the moon and sun. I had this deep freeze notated back in November when I made the forecast for 2013 because it matched the lunar and solar set up from another year in history VERY closely, therefore all I need to do is look up that year and make some recalculations for differences that are the lunar orbit and there you have it! It is, of course, not the only variable to take into account with the weather patterns from year to year but it is very significant. In fact I know I freely posted my general forecast for the Philadelphia PA. area on another one of your blogs for the first half of 2013. If anyone can remember what i wrote or look it back up you will see that this was already forecasted to come about as it is….Nothing personal to anybody; but I am getting a bit tired of hearing” global warming” on every article these scientist write regarding weather or climate..Alvin has already shown us that man made global warming is basically a hoax and that inner Earth anamolies are initiating erratic patterns of sporadic, if I may use my own term, Earth shivers”.


    • Jacques says:

      Yes, man made GW is a HOAX built by the ecolo-antiindustrial complex to enslave us.


    • tdenbeck says:

      I have to admit I am frustrated when society takes a term and uses it beyond it’s true meaning. Thank you Joseph and TNO. We cannot get a true picture until all variables are considered.


      • Joseph t. Repas says:

        Yes, tdenbeck, I agree… we are in the world of buzzwords and catch phrases because there is so much information streaming so quickly.


  10. jeff says:

    why is it not on main stream news


  11. NOMOREBS says:

    global warming is a MYTH


  12. tcole says:

    Just wondering , is anyone else seeing that a event like this is exactly what a ice age may look like. With warm air centered in the middle of the Artic pushing cold air and moisture into the lower latitudes. There is a British gentleman or I think he British, that has a theory on youtub saying the moisture needed for a ice age would come from the Artic ocean. I do believe he is correct.


  13. tonic says:

    Not sure if I read it on here months ago, or read it in the TEP book, but, apparently lack of CMEs alters the upper atmosphere slightly in some way. Might have no relationship with any of this, but the sun is so quite, and approaching maximum. What will minimum be like?


  14. Manuel Gonzalez says:

    Looks like a bunch of earth scientists working overtime at home–you guys have done a lot of wonderful research and I commend you for it. I think TNO has hit the button right of the nose.
    Sure the sun and the magnetic pole migration has a lot to do with this weather, but the volcanoes in north-eastern russia have had a lot to do with it. I think we might even be headed for a mini-iceage era one of these years. All that volcanic output circling the northern part of the globe is certainly going to put dampers on the weather patterns and disrupt the weather we are accoustomed to see this time of the year. Diminished sunlight will certainly cause weather changes, just like Krakatoa did in the 1800’s. It looks like mother nature is ganging up on us and one of these days we’ll have unprcedented weather events never seen before. Looks like mother nature will give a big surprise WITHOUT WARNING one of these days. I just hope it’s not a clean slate event.
    MannyG. retired NASA engr. who helped put man on the moon.


  15. Gail says:

    Global warming? These pathetic “scientists” need to learn basic physics. By their reasoning, if I brought water to a boil, it would turn into a lump of ice. Weird.


  16. me says:

    Interestingly, i know a man who seems prophetic who predicted a significant cold snap over the US this winter.

    I was most skeptical considering my own state’s recent mild winters.


  17. Kathy says:

    This article reads like the script, from the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”. Scary!!


  18. pagan66 says:

    Unusual, unprecedented, extreme, record breaking. The new norm. Here in Australia the Bureau of Meteorology actually had to design a deeper purple colour for their temperature maps and we have been warned this heat is set to intensify and continue.

    According to a peer-reviewed study by the Australian-based Global Carbon Project, global average temperatures are on a trajectory to rise a further four to six degrees by the end of this century, with that rise felt most strongly over land areas. It would be enough to tip Tuesday’s over-40 temperatures over much of mainland Australia very close to 50 degrees in some parts.

    “Those of us who spend our days trawling – and contributing to – the scientific literature on climate change are becoming increasingly gloomy about the future of human civilisation,’’ said Liz Hanna, convener of the human health division at the Australian National University’s Climate Change Adaptation Network.

    ‘‘We are well past the time of niceties, of avoiding the dire nature of what is unfolding, and politely trying not to scare the public. The unparalleled setting of new heat extremes is forcing the continual upwards trending of warming predictions for the future, and the timescale is contracting.’’

    Around the world, 2013 could be the hottest ever recorded by modern instrumentation, according to a recent study by Britain’s Met Office.

    It said that, based on the rising background warming trend, 2013 will be 0.43 degrees to 0.71 degrees hotter globally than the average temperature between 1961 and 1990, with a ‘‘best fit’’ of 0.57 degrees warmer.

    If that turns out to be accurate, 2013 would surpass the previous record, held jointly by 2005 and 2010.



  19. tonic says:

    Outside of al the climatic chaos, 2013 is emerging as the year of comets and asteroids.


  20. Copie says:

    One would have to be very stupid to believe that record cold weather is really global warming!


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